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An amplifiers primary purpose is to enhance electronic performance, with the majority being used within sound reproduction. It will do this by increasing the power of the input signal; whilst not significantly distorting or changing the sound output. There are many different factors to consider when choosing an amplifier, and as long as these are taken into account then you will be able to get the amplifier that you need.
Gain is measured in decibels (db), and is worked out by dividing the input power to output power ratio by the amplitude. As a general rule of thumb, but not set in concrete and amplifier that has higher gain will be more sensitive to one that doesn’t. The Efficiency is how much input power is used to create an output, so put simply it is power input versus power output. This will vary greatly, although it is worth noting that you will never get a 100% efficiency rating.
The amount of undesirable Noise is also worth noting when deciding what amplifier to buy. A noise factor occurs because unwanted noise is produced by the introduction of the process of amplification. The Bandwidth is referring to the frequencies over which amplifiers will perform to a satisfactory level. It is measured by examining the half power points, or the frequency where the power goes down by half the value when balancing frequency versus output. So put simply, the bandwidth is the difference between the upper and lower half points on the curve. The gain of a quality amplifier will be flat between the bandwidths of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Linearity is very important to your understanding of Amplifiers, therefore knowing what you require will help you no end to choose the correct amplifier. Linearity affects the amount of distortion that will be present through the output. In an ideal we would not have to deal with this as they would be completely linear resulting in no distortion. When the input is increased the output is also increased, until it reaches a point where it cannot receive an output, which is called saturation; saturation resulting in distortion. Some amplifiers have features that will help reduce the sounds of distortion.